April 23, 2010

More than one suspect sought in principal's death

Montgomery County Police are searching for a car they believe may be related to the homicide of a Washington, D.C., school principal who was found dead in his Silver Spring home last week. Police also say there could be more than one suspect in his slaying. Police say at 12:15 a.m. April 15, a car was seen leaving an alley adjacent to the home of 42-year-old Brian Betts, a longtime Montgomery County educator and principal at Shaw at Garnet-Patterson Middle School in the District, said Officer Melanie Brenner, a police spokeswoman. Later that evening, Betts was found dead in his bedroom, the victim of at least one gunshot wound. Previously, police recovered Betts's blue Nissan Xterra, which was found Saturday in the 3900 block of Fourth Street SE in the District, 14 miles away from his Silver Spring home.

With two cars connected to the scene of Betts's slaying, police believe more than one person could be responsible for his death, Brenner said. Unfortunately, she added, police were given no description of the car seen leaving the alley.

"We have zero description right now," she said Wednesday. "We don't know if it's a truck or a car, we just know it wasn't his vehicle."

Police have determined Betts's sport utility vehicle was abandoned in D.C. between noon and 3 p.m. April 16 by two men, but there is no further description of the individuals, said Capt. Paul Starks, a police spokesman. The vehicle was left there intact with no evidence of theft. Police do not know why the car was dumped in that location. Police have also learned Betts was alive until 11:30 p.m. April 14, through evidence of phone conversations he had that night.

Before his death, Betts was a pioneer in D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee's program to reform the District's public schools. Rhee recruited Betts to become Shaw's principal in 2008 to revitalize the struggling D.C. school, which temporarily had merged with Garnet-Patterson.

Before coming to Shaw, Betts had taught at Rock View Elementary in Kensington, Redland and Neelsville middle schools in Rockville and Germantown, respectively, and was an assistant principal running the arts magnet program at A. Mario Loiederman Middle School in Wheaton from the school's opening in 2005 to 2008. A public memorial for Betts will be held May 1 at Strathmore Music Hall in Bethesda. Officials could not be immediately reached to determine the time of the memorial. SOURCE: Gazette

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